Clos du Val Stags Leap District Cabernet 2006

87++ points

Napa Valley, California, USA. 13.5%

There is some confectionary new oak on the nose that calms down with some breathing – highly recommended for this young wine.

Thankfully not a steroid enhanced Cal Cabernet but it’s also not fresh and expeessive – yet. I really feel this needs time to open up. Promising wine.

Great label.



Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains 2004

87 points

California, USA. 13%

Dark colour.

You have to look (breathe) past the acetone aromas.

A flavoursome bright Cabernet with some charm. Not heavy at all but full bodied. Drink 2011-2015.

2012 UPDATE – the oak is still strong.  American oak unfortunately.  Very dry and savoury, quite unlike the typical Cali Cab.  Looks like it may benefit from a couple more years.

Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2006

86 points

A Chateauneuf De Pape inspired wine, though this is a medium bodied wine, nicely savoury although Brett seemed to be a bit higher than I would have liked.  It’s a roughly 40, 40 blend of syrah and granache with 10% cinsault and a tiny 1% of mouvedre.  Drink now and over the next couple of years.  Screwcap (nice to see on a US wine).

Retains its wonderful label, see

12 year old cabernet tasting

Four good wines, but they weren’t exciting. I had hoped for more enjoyment from 12 year old wines, perhaps I my tongue just was in an odd mood.

Orlando (now Jacob’s Creek) St Hugo 1998

Coonawarra, South Australia

A very cabernet blackberry style. Maybe we should have started with a younger wine because this doesn’t seem to be showing any age to me. I like how it doesn’t reek of minty eucalpyt, but it is fairly straight-forward. I wonder, indeed I doubt, if these wines really gain complexity with age – they seem to merely soften.

Cakebread Cellars Cabernet 1998

Napa Valley, California.

This is very different. Definite age here. Mellow with noticeable alcohol, cuddly wine. Not a syrupy blockbuster, more natural less extracted and concentrated than any Californian cabernet I have had in recent years.

Killerby Cabernet 1998

Margaret River, Western Australia

Dark. Some flavours of grape skins. Disjointed, starting to fall apart ?

Chateau Pontet-Canet 1999

Pauillac, Bordeaux.

Not showing any of the dilution (rain) that hit Bordeaux. Solid but austere style. Lacks the flavour, style (and fun) of Leoville Barton 1999.

Hess Collection Mount Veeder Napa Valley 19 Block Cuvee 2006

85 points. 14.4%

This was a bit of a surprise because Decanter magazine described the 2006 vintage in California as producing lean elegant wines. This is plush almost porty wine with very grapey aromas.

It has concentration and some new oak but it is quite approachable because of the obvious fruit and soft acid and tannin. I don’t expect this wine to fail soon but don’t expect it would give much reward from cellaring.

Quite like a good (non minty) Barossa Cabernet.

A Cab Sav, Malbec, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc blend.

Heitz Cellar Napa Valley Cabernet Bella Oaks Vineyard 1998

86 points

Napa Valley, California, USA. 14.2%

A famous producer, its Margaret vineyard cabernet featured in the 1970s “Judgement of Paris” tasting.

An 11 year wine, and on sale for half price in Philadelphia, quite a find.

It’s a mellow, almost cuddly sort of cabernet.  Without complexity or power.  Sweetish, but not bad by US standards.  A little noticeably over alcoholic.  Drink now.